Home > Poets > Rodriguez, Judith

Judith Rodriguez (1936 – )

Judith Rodriguez, photo courtesy the author Judith Rodriguez, photo courtesy the author

Judith Rodriguez was born Judith Catherine Green in Perth, Western Australia on 13 February 1936 but, after her family moved there, grew up in Brisbane. She attended Brisbane Girls Grammar School before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Queensland. Subsequently she travelled to England, where she completed a Master of Arts at Cambridge University. In 1964 she married Colombian Fabio Rodriguez. They returned to Australia in 1968 but divorced some years later.

Rodriguez taught English at La Trobe University from 1969 until 1985. In 1986 she was  writer-in-residence at Rollins College, Florida, an experience commemorated in her ninth collection Floridian Poems (1986). In 1989 she took up a lectureship in writing at Victoria College, which in 1993 became part of Deakin University, where she continued to teach until her retirement in 2003.

Rodriguez's first poetry collection was published in 1962 as part of Four Poets, the others being fellow Brisbane poets David Malouf, Rodney Hall and Don Maynard. The title poem of her first solo collection, Nu-Plastik Fanfare Red: and other poems (1973), has remained an anthology favourite; it demonstrates her highly effective use of direct and forthright language and striking imagery. Water Life (1976) won the inaugural South Australian Biennial Literature Prize in 1978, while one of Rodriguez's most highly-regarded collections, Mudcrab at Gambaro's (1980) received both the Sydney PEN Golden Jubilee Award for Poetry and the Artlook/Shell Literary Award in 1981. The title sequence of poems celebrates life and sensuality through the eating of Queensland mud crab. Rodriguez is also known for her poems about women's experiences; the title poem of Witch Heart (1982), published by the feminist press Sisters, records a visit to Robyn Archer's play about the often disastrous lives of famous women performers, A Star is Torn.

Rodriguez also collaborated with Australian composer Moya Henderson on the opera Lindy, about Lindy Chamberlain, which premiered in 2003 at the Sydney Opera House, and with Robyn Archer on the play Poor Johanna, produced in Adelaide in 1994. In 1974 she began making woodcuts and linocuts for book decorations; these appear in several of her poetry collections, and have been exhibited. In 1994 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia, for services to literature, and also received the FAW Christopher Brennan Award.

Poetry Collections

 A Question of Ignorance in Four Poets [with David Malouf, Don Maynard and Rodney Hall] (Melbourne: Cheshire, 1962).

Nu-Plastik Fanfare Red: and other poems (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1973).

Poems: selections (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1975).

Water Life (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1976).

Shadows on Glass (Canberra: Open Door Press, 1978).

Poems (North Melbourne, Vic: Charles Johnston, 1979).

Mudcrab at Gambaro's (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1980).

Witch Heart (Carlton, Vic: Sisters Publishing, 1982).

Floridian Poems (Florida, USA: Rollins College, 1986).

The House by Water: New and Selected Poems
(St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1988).

The Cold (Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1992).

Manatee and other poems (Warners Bay, NSW: Picaro Press, 2007).

Suggested Further Reading

Jenny Digby, 'Bathing in a Great Sea of Wonderful Words,' A Woman's Voice: Conversations with Australian Poets (St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1996), pp. 154-73.

Lyn McCredden, ' "By What Sign/Are You Walking?": The Poetry of Judith Rodriguez,' Australian Literary Studies 18.2 (1997), pp. 136-44.

Lyn McCredden, 'An Interview with Judith Rodriguez,' Australian Literary Studies 18.2 (1997), pp. 179-84.

Jennifer Strauss, ' "A Lifetime Devoted to Literature": A Tribute to Judith Rodriguez,' Southerly 52.3 (1992), pp. 168-75.

Jennifer Strauss, 'Judith Rodriguez,' in Selina Samuels, ed., Australian Writers 1975-2000 (Detroit, USA: Gale Research, 2006), pp. 273-77.

Gallery